27 November 2014
(Originally posted by UCU at http://www.ucu.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=7300&from=7266)
Lecturers at Sheffield Hallam University who are on casualised contracts want proper full-time contracts, according to a survey of staff released today. Four-fifths (80%) of respondents teach students at the university while the other 20% are involved in either research or teach and do research.
The poll, conducted by the local branch of UCU shows how staff on casualised contracts, such as part-time or the controversial zero-hours contracts, do not enjoy the flexibility they purport to provide and want proper working conditions.
Nine out of 10 people questioned (88%) said they would prefer a permanent contract with guaranteed hours of work. The report is a follow up to research carried out by UCU in 2013 that found that only 10 UK universities employed more academic staff on zero-hours contracts than Sheffield Hallam.
As well as concerns about the nature of the contracts themselves, other issues raised by staff included:
- not being paid for preparation, marking and administrative work
- lack of inclusion and participation in day-to-day activities at work
- problems with contracts being issued on time
- negative impact on staff mental health
- lack of clarity and planning regarding recruitment and retention
UCU representative and co-author of the report, Bob Jeffrey said: ‘This report makes a mockery of claims that the flexibility provided by things such as zero-hours contracts benefit staff. People want a proper permanent contract because they want to know when they are working and they want to be able to plan their lives, not exist on a month-to-month or even week-to-week basis.
‘There a host of other issues that casualised staff face such as not being paid for preparation or marking, failing to be included in the day-to-day life of the university and even problems trying to sort out their contracts. We hope Sheffield Hallam will work with us to improve the lot of the casual staff member. We do not believe it is in students’ interests to see lecturers who may not be there the following month.’